Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Exchange student: Samantinha

foto: Sam and good friend Amy

- Can you tell me your name, where you are from?

My name is Samantha, and I am from Los Angeles, CA.

- Why did you come to Brasil?

I came to Brazil to study abroad through my college. I studied for a year at PUC-Rio.

- When you arrived where did you live?

I lived with a host family I was placed with in Sao Conrado for the first 6 months.

- How did you find out about favelas?

I found out about Rocinha through a friend I was studying with. She told me about how her brother taught English in Rocinha at Instituto Dois Irmaos (i2i), and then arranged a tour with Zezinho to look around before we started teaching.

- Why did you decide to move into a favela (Rocinha)?

I decided to move to Rocinha because I was paying a lot of money to live in a room, and I wanted more freedom to have people over. I was also already there a lot. I went to the gym there, taught there, and most of my friends lived there.

- Before moving here what did you know about favelas?

Before moving to Brazil, nothing much. I had heard about them, but also heard that they were extremely dangerous.

- Since living here, have you impressions of favelas changed much?

Yes, I can only speak for Rocinha, because I haven't spent much time in other Favelas, but Rocinha was a huge city, but felt safer to me than Copacabana.

- What do you like about living in the favela?

I liked that I could be close to all of my friends, and pay less than other places in Zona Sul to live by myself. And I liked being close to the beach and to my school.

- What don’t you like?

Living in Rocinha as a Gringo(a) is very different from being raised there. I had a very privileged life there. I could leave if I wanted to or stay. It is not as easy for people who live there. They are judged differently than I would be for living in a Favela.

- If you had a magic wand and could change anything, what would you change about the favela?

The fact that the children and adults who live in Rocinha don't have the social mobility or options that other classes in Rio do.

- Has your experience been worthwhile?

Yes, I enjoyed teaching and living there. I am moving back to Rio in september!

- What advice would you give someone who wanted to move/stay here?

That you should maybe check it out and see if that is the pace of life you would like to live in before you make the move.

- Would you come back to live here again?

I plan to live in Rio with my boyfriend and so I am not moving back to Rocinha. But it was great for that period of my time in Rio.

- Anything else you would like to comment about regarding life here?

It is a complex community, full of good and more complicated aspects, and residents that deserve the same level of respect as all other members of Rio.